Published: 15th April 2022
Kerala: This device made of biodegradable plastic can help visually-impaired students learn English
Earlier, a single wooden device was used in one class and all students had to use it for learning. Akshi is a 3x3 grid device made of biodegradable plastic
The International Centre for Free and Open Source Software (ICFOSS) — an autonomous organisation functioning under the Kerala state department of electronics and IT — has developed a unique mechanical two-dimensional device, Akshi, as a primary word learning technique for visually-impaired students.
This handy crossword puzzle device will work as an alternative to activity-based learning devices for six-year-old blind students who begin their English lessons. Initially, the device will be distributed to students in Blind Schools in the state. In the first phase, students of the Government School for the Blind in the capital have received the devices.
ICFOSS technical consultant G Jaidev said the idea to develop a handy device for visually-impaired students came up following the suggestions made by the teachers and braille experts at the schools for visually-impaired children. "The primary objective of ICFOSS is to provide assistive technology to disabled students. But here, we did not use any software. We have developed the device for the six-year-old students who are visually impaired so that they could learn three-letter English words first through the crossword puzzle game. It has been distributed as part of Level-I implementation. In Level-II, which is for seven to 10-year-olds, five-letter English words will be incorporated. It's currently under development. The Level-III has 10-letter words which will ensure a smooth transition to the braille learning process," he said.
The main advantage of this compact device is that it can be provided to each student in a class. Earlier, a single wooden device was used in one class and all students had to use it for learning. Akshi is a 3x3 grid device made of biodegradable plastic. The large-sized braille dots on the device help visually challenged students learn. Since the letters and blocks in the device have contrasting colours, they can also be used by students with low vision. The device will soon be distributed in all schools for visually-impaired students in the state.
In addition to Akshi, ICFOSS has developed several other devices for physically-challenged students. It has developed an ergonomic mouse for people with motor disabilities. Named T-Slide, the device replaces the conventional mouse for persons with limited mobility in their hands and fingers. It was the first open hardware solution developed by the assistive technology lab at ICFOSS. It is also working on developing modern educational applications aimed at supporting the development of cognitive abilities.